Bloomington v Chicago

Last week I had an interview for a job in Bloomington, the town where I went to college. It’s about 2 hours away from my hometown and practically in the middle of nowhere. Despite its location, BNorm (as it’s commonly referred to because of the two towns that sit right next to each other, Bloomington and Normal) has approximately 130,000 people living there with two universities adding numbers during the school year. It was a great place to live for uni, but there are some definite drawbacks.

I’ve also been interviewing for positions in Chicago – a raucous city of 7 million. And while I do love Chicago, all it has to offer, and its similarities to the city-life I grew accustomed to in Hong Kong, it also has some points of contention.

Decisions, decisions! I do not have good job offers anywhere yet, but when that time comes and I have to decide what job to take and where I want to live, it’ll be tough. I’ve made some pros and cons to help with the choice. Here goes…


Eventual family-Someday when I have a family, where would I rather raise kids? The answer is definitely Bloomington. It’s much for convenient to get around with children and the school systems are quite good.


CostBloomington wins this conversation hands down. Everything is cheaper in B-town: gas, rent, taxes, food, the list could go on.


Single scene-And if Bloomington wins the cost of living topic with no argument, then Chicago prevails here. I lived in the city for 10 days and I was asked on dates by two guys, what would happen if I lived there forever? Eek!


Amount of people-The numbers don’t lie, there are over 50 times more people living in Chicago than in Bloomington, which equals 50x more traffic, 50x more chances of meeting a guy, 50x more chances of making new friends. It’s a tie! Less people can mean good things and more people can also pump up the stats.


Things to do-As I mentioned before, BNorm is literally in the middle of cornfields. In any direction that you go outside of the 2 towns, there are fields upon fields upon fields. In the towns themselves, I’m sure there’s plenty to do for a few weekends worth, but in Chicago there are more things to do than a lifetime could contain. Chicago, you win.


Changing jobs-If, let’s say, the position that I eventually take doesn’t work out or I want to search from something different, the options aren’t really there in Bloomington like they are in Chicago. If it doesn’t work out at the B-town job, then I have to start my “new life plan” all over again. But, like my dad said, it’s okay if what’s next is still a stepping stone; it doesn’t have to be forever. Why start over again in a new city in a few years when I could just already be in Chicago or more easily find something else?


Friends already there-Another tie. I have only a handful of friends that I talk with in both places, though there are many Facebook friends that live in Chicago which could change into friends I hang out with, so…maybe Chicago wins here, too.


Job available-For the sake of the position, I won’t share what it is I’ve been interviewing for, but the job in Bloomington is amazing, one I’d really love to get. In Chicago, where I’ve been doing the majority of my search, there are tons of jobs, but not tons of job offers. B-town– check.


Safety/crime-All of those people in Chicago means a whole lotta crime. My mom would choose Bloomington any day because of the safety issue of the city.


Surrounding area-If I’m ever bored with the town I’m living in, I can go somewhere else, say drive to a connecting city. The most B-town has near to it is a themed-room hotel in Clinton though I will not divulge why I know this. Another for Chicago.


Diversity-After having lived in Hong Kong surrounded by other people not like me, I started to really embrace and enjoy finding out about other places and cultures. My closest friends in HK were from all over the world which means I now have tons of places to go visit someday! As one friend who lives in Bloomington told me: Ashley, you are more traveled and cultured than the average American. Bloomington is small town middle-America full of college students and families, chain restaurants and megaplexes. This pretty much says it all. Again, Chicago.

So if I tally the numbers: Chicago 6, Bloomington 4, Tie 1

This is what I’ve come up with, though I’m sure there’s much more to the scenarios than I can explain since I haven’t lived in either of them as an adult. Have some advice? Please share!

Taking a Girl’s Number

Hey, I just met you

And this is crazy

But here’s my number

So call me, maybe?

-Carly Rae Jepsen


“Why do guys bother to ask for a girl’s phone number when they have no intention of using it?” I asked.

Kira began, “Maybe there’s a secret—”

“Society of douches,” I interjected.

“Ha! No! Maybe there’s a secret game that guys all play trying to collect as many phone numbers as they can.”

Maybe Kira is right or maybe guys really are just douches, but what’s the point of asking a girl for her phone number if you aren’t going to follow through? Just because I’m leaving the bar, it doesn’t mean you need to pretend you’ll call me. Just because you ride past me on the street, it doesn’t mean you need my number.

Yesterday I was stopped while walking along the street by a rather attractive guy riding a bike. He stopped mid-ride to strike up a conversation, asked me to get drinks with him (which I politely declined because I was leaving town that night), continued asking me questions, and finally asked for my number so we could get my favorite food for dinner some night.

The idea put a smile on my face and I randomly giggled for the rest of the evening about how a cute boy had asked me out. But will this alleged phone call actually take place? If not, I don’t mind, I swear, there are plenty of attractive fish in the sea, but if the biker had no intentions of making contact why did he even ask in the first place? (Unless, of course, he’s going home to brag to his friends that he can add another tally to his ever-growing list of gal’s digits that he’ll never use.)

Now, I’m not making presumptions about said lad, but merely speaking from experience. For example, last weekend I was at a bachelorette party where a cute 20-something sporting a sweet smile and a yellow sweater began making conversation. We talked for about a half hour before my party train was going home, but before I left, Mr. Yellow asked for my number. There was no prompting by me, but an outright, “Can I get your number so we can hang out sometime?”

That was Saturday, today is Wednesday. No phone call, no text. Now, it’s fine that he didn’t make contact. My feelings aren’t hurt, but why ask in the first place?

This same scenario has happened to me more times than I can count (which is probably why I no longer hold my breath waiting at the phone). I am tired of reciting my digits for attractive men (must admit, never thought I’d say that!). If someone says they’re going to call, can’t they just…well, call?

I’m not planning on hearing from either of the aforementioned guys, but if I do, I’ll be sure to congratulate them on having some cojones to take the second step…that whole crazy following through thing. Don’t bother with step 1 if you’re never planning to do step 2. Please and thank you.

Making a Plan

Tonight was my first yoga class in 3 weeks since I left training because of a pinched nerve in my neck and problematic rotator cuff muscles. It made me realize how glad I am that I decided to spend so much money and that I changed my life plans to do the teacher training. I fell back in love. Since I haven’t been able to do yoga, I haven’t been diligent about what to do for teaching. Here’s the plan I have so far:

1)    Get a real job

Once I actually have a job I can find where in my schedule I have time to teach. I will have a real income so I won’t be dependent on yoga teaching money. It also allows me to find out what city I’ll be living in.

2)    Move in

I’ll have a town, I’ll have a neighborhood, I’ll have a place to be. From here I can find studios near to me if I want to teach publicly or I can advertise for places near to where I’m living for private classes.

3)    Design and buy business cards

I have ideas in my head for what I’d like the cards to look like; my plan as of now is to have yoga on one side and writing/editing on the other. This can’t get done, though, until I have a…

4)    Website

A website will have all of the info that I can share, including prices, locations, and my…

5)    Yoga Resume

This is something I can start now, but hope to build up with private clients and more experience.

This whole getting a yoga job is going to be difficult, but I was reminded tonight how much I really do love yoga and my desire to be a teacher. The idea is to teach private classes first, so if you or anyone you know wants awesome, yet *inexpensive* yoga instruction, let me know!

A Day in the Life

…of a freshly minted substitute teacher.

4:45 It is entirely too early. Maybe it’s my nerves or maybe it’s excitement, but I certainly do not need to be awake yet. Today is my first day as a substitute teacher. For the last 6 years I’ve had my own classroom with my own students, my own rules, my own organization system, but today I step into someone else’s classroom with someone else’s students, rules, and organizational methods. Don’t think of what may go wrong today, I tell myself, but instead focus on what I can do well and, of course, the paycheck I’ll be getting.

6:17 I set my GPS for the neighborhood the school is in and hope for no traffic. It’s my second day ever driving in a city. Hong Kong meant trains and buses, and Chicago can mean that too but from where I’m staying and working, it’s impractical. Fingers crossed.

6:37 Well, I’m here much too early, must me my schtick today. I’m not meant to meet the director ‘til 7 so I’ll sit in the office until she gets here.

7:00 Someone I’ve already met arrives, not the principal, and is surprised I’m here:  “Oh, you’re…here. I didn’t realize. Let’s get you set up. Hopefully someone will be here to train you.” Perfect. What if I have no one here to show me what to do? That should be okay as long as there are lesson plans and books to follow.

7:02 No books, no teacher.

7:10 I step outside into the hallway to find a bathroom. Another teacher walks near and I’m nervous to talk to her. Everyone else I’ve seen today has ignored me.

7:15 No lesson plans, no trainer yet. I do know though that I have morning duty which consists of telling kids they can’t go upstairs.

7:18 A teacher has just introduced herself and said if I needed any help to just ask. That was nice, though she’s the only one who’s even looked my way in 41 minutes.

7:20 Just told a poor kid she couldn’t go to her classroom (that was my one job) and with a crestfallen face she goes to get her mom. Her mom comes over and tries to explain. Sorry, I say, I’m just a substitute, I don’t know anything other than don’t let anyone upstairs.

7:40 Phew! The trainer is here and explains the position. Easy enough. Go get kids, teach, take them back, repeat. I don’t know what I’m teaching them, but I like having only 4 students for 35 minutes each!

8:00 First grade. So cute, so happy, so much energy. I try my best to zip my lips while the original teacher teaches the class, but it’s hard. I have an idea! I can do that better! What about this?! My inner control freak is forcing me to literally bite my lip. Shut up, Miss C, this is not your class!

12:00 Lunch! The teachers have been given pizza and some of them brought in treats. Mmm I love pumpkin chocolate chip bread! I sit down though no one’s invited me to eat their hard-earned food. I’m hungry, I eat it anyway. One teacher talks to me. Everyone else acts like the seat is empty. Oh well, at least I get free pizza and brownies.

12:20 This classroom is really unorganized. My OCD is kicking in. I must clean!

12:45 Well, doesn’t that drawer look much tidier! This teacher will love me when she gets back, I’m certain of it.

1:10 More kids, more teaching, more organizing. Yes, those shelves definitely look nicer.

2:30 It’s Friday and my schedule with kids is done. Maybe I can just put these papers here instead…yea, that’s better. She’s definitely going to like this.

3:15 Home sweet (someone else’s) home. Monday is a new day and it’ll be my classroom for 7 more days. I bet I can tackle the rest of those drawers by then.

*Side note: today is Monday and it was a great day! My kiddos were sweet, I figured out what I was supposed to teach them, and many more teachers introduced themselves and said hello. Guess they just needed to give it some time. Oh, and that shelf with science books, yea, it looks better now, too.

Top 10 Reasons I Need A Job (Eventually)

1) to pay the bills including the cable bill so I that can get HGTV again and indulge in a DVR
2) to move into my own place again (love you parents, but I’ve been living on my own for nearly 10 years now)
3) so I can finally unpack my storage unit after 2 long years
4) to keep my saving account afloat
5) to pay off college debt – yes, I still have that
6) so I can find a city to call mine, to settle down into, and to find a good yoga studio in
7) so I have something to do all day besides dreaming about what my next meal will be
8) to buy a new wardrobe for grown-ups
9) to save money for more traveling
10) so I can put my $130,000 education to good use

The End of Training, The Beginning of a New Life Journey

If you spent time with me in the last 4 weeks, you know that I cry…a lot. The water works in me couldn’t be stopped. When I was leaving my amazing home away from home in Hong Kong that I’d lived in for 2 years, I barely cried, but set me in a room full of yoga teachers and apparently I bawl like a baby. Today was my final day in training and, as expected, I couldn’t hold in the tears. It must have been something about the emotions evoked and the “realness” of yoga that made me so connected to my tear ducts. It was also the fact that the last month was one of the most amazing and life-changing times in my life. I met beautiful people who showed me what true openness and kindness really are (that includes my fabulous housemates). Today was a goodbye to 9 people who truly cared about me and of course I cried all day knowing that I may never see them again. Having the presence of these wonderful people in my daily life made the last month extremely fulfilling even through the emotionally challenging parts of class. I don’t know where I’m supposed to be next, but I know, that for this month, I was meant to be here. Thank you to my teachers, my classmates, and my hosts for extending your arms and embracing me into your lives this past month.

On this last day, I taught the class about Savasana or the final relaxation pose of the practice. During this time, usually the teacher reads something inspirational. Here’s what I said:

We’ve been incredibly lucky the last month with all that this yoga teacher training has offered us – our insightful, wonderful, helpful, and caring teachers; the supportive, funny, and intelligent classmates; as well as more words of wisdom than any of us can remember. Throughout the last 4 weeks, when wow! moments and lines have occurred, I’ve written them down to help inspire me later. I’d like to share these with you today to help concrete our month of practice.

*Be brave enough to be uncomfortable

*Accept life on life’s terms

*Notice without judging

*Become the steady force amidst the turbulence

*Surrender your control, control your surrender

*When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite/positive ones should be thought of

*Always be loving, always be learning

*By contentment, supreme joy is gained

*Yoga is about uncovering the light that’s already inside of you

*How we deal with the present moment affects future moments

*Every moment in your life is a chance for a moment of bliss

*Not self-improvement, but self-knowledge and self-acceptance

*Freedom or liberation from that which clouds our true self

Taking Chicago by storm…one date, one yoga class, one salsa lesson, one blog post, one trip, one drink, one meal, one new friendship at a time.